What is GPA?

| October 2, 2012

GPA or Grade Point Average is a method in which a student’s total school performance is calculated. Usually, GPA is calculated through college from middle school. First started by Cambridge University’s William Farrish in the late eighteenth century, GPA may vary from one country or school to another in terms of specific performance assessment.

How did GPA come to what we know of it today?

With the passage of time and beginning in the era of the sixties, many teachers and students wished to completely ban grades. Some private schools and universities did not give out number or letter grades during this time. Until some years ago, for example UCLA Santa Cruz, used a system of written assessment rather than a concrete traditional system of grading. This system’s incompatibility with students who wanted to go on with the education as well as students’ demands reintegrated a grading system that was more standard and traditional by the time the nineties came around.

Private institutions in various countries that use disparate systems such as this makes it difficult to discuss the vast GPA calculation range. In other words, it can be really difficult to calculate the GPA especially if you’re just entering middle school.

GPA Types

In the United States, for instance there are basically 2 GPA types. This includes cumulative GPA and GPA assessed per semester.

Cumulative GPA and GPA per semester

Cumulative GPA measures total GPA at a specified schooling level while GPA assessed each semester can be the average of 2 quarterly grades High schools would focus on all the earned grades at the level of high school in cumulative GPA assessments. Currently, the systems give an assigned point level to letter grades.

In general:

4.0 equals a letter grade of A,

3.0 equals a grade of B,

2.0 equals a grade of C

1.0 equals a grade of D.

0.0 which is the lowest mark, a grade of F is given.

Schools can be considerate too

Some schools slightly raise or reduce points if students earn a grade letter with a minus or a plus, based on their discretion. For example getting an A-plus grade may be nothing more than getting a regular grade of A in other schools. Some schools give a rating of 4.33 points to an A-plus but others don’t. Students feel that it is unfair when schools don’t count the plus but deduct points for an A-minus.

Calculating GPA

To calculate GPA, total grades are given their equivalent and then divided by the number of classes total.

When not all classes constitute equal number of units in college, this can get complicated. Instead, points may be multiplied for every unit. For example, getting a grade of A in classes worth five units would be worth twenty points. Many times using online GPA calculators becomes helpful when attempts are made to figure out college level GPA.

Even if the highest possible Grade Point Average is traditionally equivalent to ‘four’ which was accomplished by getting straight grades of A in each of the courses taken, there are currently some changes to this. These days, some schools offer students different systems of points when they take courses of Advanced Placement. Systems such as this one enable students to earn more than a four. College admission boards need to find out which system a school uses since not all schools do this.

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Category: Intro to GPA

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